Traveling is a life-changing experience. While most people think the best time to fly away is during your twenties, that’s completely wrong.
Sure, you won’t struggle to stay in a hostel where the bed is made of rocks and it’s so hot it feels like you’ve been thrown into an actual volcano. But with more time a refined palette, and a desire to sleep in a nice bed, your older years are the golden time to travel the planet.
There’s a whole world out there for you to explore. So to get you started on your over-50 adventure, here’s the best city in every continent that all older LGBTI people need to discover.
1 North America: Fort Lauderdale, USA
While everyone and their mother will tell you to head to Key West, For Lauderdale is the real queer capital of Florida. The town is brimming with LGBTI activity, with people flocking to their dreamy beaches and historic sites alike. The Sebastian Street Gay Beach is a must for gay men, boasting endless sand and a crowd that skews on the 30+ side. The more north you go, the less gay it becomes, which makes it great for lesbian and mixed couples too.
Though it’s not just about sexy beaches: the nightlife is just as attractive. Rosie’s Bar and Grill gives the friendly atmosphere of your local, coupled with great food and drink. Java Boys, too, offers a more relaxed, coffee-based drinking experience. For something more lively, Lips provides entertainment from Drag Queens and cabaret acts. When not lounging on the beach, the World AIDS Museum should be a pilgrimage spot for all LGBTI people.
2 South America: Bogotá, Columbia
Columbia is quickly becoming the queerest place in South America. While some under-developed spots are a bit more dangerous for tourists, keep a sensible head on and you’ll be swept away in fun in no time.
Bogotá is filled to the brim with tourist activities for older LGBTI travelers. The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is one of the most-visited attractions in the entire country. The rooms contain over 55,000 pieces of gold from major pre-Hispanic cultures, laid out in thematic rooms. Just as stunning is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. One of only two structures of the type, the whole cathedral is built into salt mines, with the icons, ornaments and details made from halite rock.
The gay district of Chapinero and you’ll find one of the most liberated places in the entire continent. El Recreo de Adan is a cool bar visited by cool people, where you can also play board games. There’s also Brokeback Mountain, a popular karaoke bar that’s as gay as its name suggests. There are plenty of gay-friendly hotels to stay in but major brands like Hilton and Four Seasons provide luxury and piece of mind.
3 Europe: Edinburgh, Scotland
Known for its bustling art scene, Edinburgh boasts more history than most European cities. The walk from the Old Town, via the beautiful castle, through to the parliament building Holyrood is worth the burnt calories. If you prefer your walks a bit more boozy, the Royal Mile Scotch Whisky Experience will teach you everything you need to know about the nation’s greatest drink.
The gay scene isn’t as populous as Glasgow, but it’s probably a bit more refined. The Regent in Abbeyhill is an adorable pub, where you can enjoy cask ale and delicious food in abundance. Or there’s Bramble. The cocktails are some of the best in the world. The service is exemplary. The aesthetics: perfect. You’ll struggle to find a more romantic spot in Edinburgh. Scotland is incredibly LGBTI-friendly, so you won’t get turned away from any hotel. The adorable gay-run 94DR is worth checking out.
4 Asia: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo has one of the most unique gay districts on the planet. Shinjuku’s Ni-Chōme contains the highest concentration of gay bars in the world. There’s bars, restaurants, cafes, saunas, clubs, cruising boxes and so much more. Some are so small that they have strict entry policies, but with this much choice you’ll likely find something special.
Though if that sounds a bit much, the most obvious solution is to eat your way through Tokyo. Japan is known for their cuisine and food tours will showcase the highlights without having to boot up Google translate. Otherwise, Tokyo public baths are a wonderful cultural experience. There’s gay-specific saunas like 24 Kaikan Shinjuku, which boasts a mix of foreign travelers and locals. Saya-No-Yudokoro is a more traditional, mixed space perfect for families.
5 Africa: Mindelo, Cape Verde
Cape Verde is a beacon of tolerance and legal rights for LGBTI people: the archipelago happens to be both stunning and a rising gay destination. While overt expressions of affection might be frowned upon, you’ll struggle to find discrimination in the biggest spots. Mindelo, the major city in Sao Vincente, is the most lively and gay friendly of all the destinations.
Known for its live music, nearly every bar, restaurant and street corner will have some sort of person playing on it. You can even buy CDs off the buskers too – which you’ll want to, because unlike, for example, every busker in London that refuses to play anything but upsettingly slow remixes of Wonderwall, these are actually good. You can also relax at the beautiful Laginha beach, as well as snorkle or scuba dive in their remarkably clear waters. There’s no gay hotels, or real gay district, but you won’t be turned away from any hotels. Besides, you’ll never be able to argue with the view.
6 Australia: Golden Bay, New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the most progressive planets in the world, with a gentle people matched only by a landscape literally ripped from Lord of the Rings. Try a stay at the Autumn Farm, a clothing-optional, eco-friendly stop for people of all ages (occasionally, it’ll be men-only). It also sits between the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks, so you won’t have to travel far for a gorgeous hike.
If you’re not brave enough to set out yourself, a guided walk through the parks is ideal Those who want to get that adrenaline pumping can head to the coast. Hop on an Adventure Flights Golden Bay plane and you can soak up the stunning coastline from the sky. Or Takaka Golf Club will give you the sights, relaxation, and the time to work on your golf swing.